Federal jury delivers guilty verdict in Johnson mortgage fraud case

A federal jury has found Gary T. Johnson, owner and operator of the Matrix Investment Corp. of Groton, guilty of four counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in illegal money transactions.

The jury heard closing arguments in the case this morning and returned the guilty verdicts this afternoon, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office. Johnson, 60, of 165 Tyler Ave., faces a maximum of 120 years in prison when Judge Christopher F. Droney sentences him in U.S. District Court in Hartford on June 11.

According to the government, Johnson defrauded lenders of more than $1.3 million by defaulting on loans he obtained on two residential properties by falsely claiming full ownership interest in the properties and overstating his monthly income. The government alleges he used the funds to pay unrelated business expenses and failed to pay off existing debts. The government alleged, also, that Johnson, who ran the company with his daughter, Jennifer, and his wife, Mary, used monies intended for the benefit of borrowers to pay Matrix's ongoing expenses or make payoffs on unrelated loans.

In July of 2005, the state Department of Banking suspended Matrix's licenses to make first and second mortgages over allegations that the firm violated several regulations. By October of that year, the company had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

The jury heard testimony and viewed documents indicating that in June 2004 Johnson obtained from Greenpoint, a California- and Massachusetts-based company, a second mortgage of $640,000 and a so-called "piggyback" line of credit for $80,000 on his personal residence on Tyler Avenue. The Groton property was in his wife's name. In October 2004, he obtained a $563,000 loan from the Flagstar Bank of Troy, Mich., on a home at 199 Thames St., New London, which he claimed was his primary residence.

Johnson also claimed to both lenders that he earned $27,000 to $29,000 monthly and said he would be using the funds to pay off existing mortgages and other debts. He stopped making payments on the loans by the fall of 2005.

This matter was investigated by Internal Revenue Service with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Senior Litigation Counsel Christopher W. Schmeisser and Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Sheldon prosecuted Johnson, who was represented by federal public defenders Robert Kappes and Gary Weinberger.

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